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Political affiliation leads to wrongful termination: part two

In our last post, we discussed a local sheriff's deputy who was fired for political affiliations. This week, we'll look at another area government employee making a similar claim. This influx of wrongful termination claims raises serious questions and concerns about the objectivity of local government and the ability of our elected officials to work cooperatively with members of other parties.

The wife of a city council person became the subject of some heated campaign rhetoric during the summer of 2010, when candidates opposing her husband targeted the validity of her position within city government. Four candidates for city council allegedly campaigned on the basis of ousting her from her job as a junior clerk, according to the allegations in the lawsuit.

The candidates claimed that the woman was only working for the local government because of her husband's position as a city council person. According to legal filings, this claim is untrue and misleading because her husband abstained from voting on whether or not to offer her the position. In fact, the woman says that her political affiliation with her husband was merely perceived by the other council members.

Noted employment attorney Samuel J. Cordes (of our firm) says that this type of firing is a violation of an employee's constitutional rights. Government employees have constitutional protections above and beyond what private sector workers have. Yet there appears to be an ongoing trend in local governments to remove potential political dissidents from the staff.

If the allegations in the lawsuit are true, then elected officials campaigned on the basis of removing someone from their job for reasons unrelated to their competency. This case raises the issue of whether or not it's an acceptable election practice to target a government employee's job and livelihood.

Has this been a problem in your hometown? Have you noticed newly elected officials firing those who hold opposing views?

Source: Sewickley Patch, "Former Clerk Sues Leetsdale Officials Over Dismissal," Larissa Dudkiewicz, Feb. 15, 2012.

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